This morning, while I did get up with the kids and sort of wave goodbye (have I mentioned how much I love school buses?), I went back to bed for an hour and a half. This was a brilliant idea and has made a new woman out of me. Of course, it meant that we were an hour and a half late leaving for our own event, but that was okay.

It was a perfect day, the kind of day that makes you glad to be in Oregon in September. The sun was warm but there was a depth of coolness to the shade, and by afternoon the light had that autumnal heaviness, like honey. The leaves were just beginning to crisp into yellow and orange.

We drove down the Columbia River Gorge until we got to Hood River, and then we turned right and headed up towards Mt. Hood to visit the apple and pear orchards. There are many of them, and you can drive a 35-mile loop and visit orchards, berry patches, lavender farms, and wineries. We visited about 4 orchards, including a place that sold pear dumplings (an entire Bartlett pear cored, stuffed with brown sugar, and baked in a pie crust. We did not get one because Donn is worried about his weight and my resistance was low from having sampled way too many types of jams and jellies on little crackers. And also, when your husband is resisting, you will feel like a total pig if you don’t. Darn his willpower!).

Some orchards were prettily decorated, with gardens and antiques.

Others were more basic.

Regardless, there was bountiful produce, along with such attractions as corn mazes, hay rides, and many many samples.

I had never seen purple peppers before. Have you?

 

Prices and variety were incredible, even this early in the season. The apples pictured below are called Tokyo Rose, and they are sweet and crunchy and really really good. They were also 60 cents/pound. I bought an enormous bag of them.

We bought a kind of green apple called Ginger Gold that might be my new favorite–it does have the merest hint of a gingery crisp to it. 50 cents/ pound. We bought peaches and blueberries and zuccini and a kind of smooth deep red pear called Star Crimson. We came home with pounds and pounds and pounds of produce.

At one farm, the lady working there offered to sample each kind of fruit. It was like wine tasting. We started with sweet and went through 10 varieties of apples to tart. Then we did pears (only 3 kinds are ripe right now, but in October there will be 12 varieties, not to mention 13 kinds of Asian pears!), then 6 kinds of peaches! I am now a minor expert, for at least a few more days until I forget, on the difference between Stenza and Buckeye Gala and Ginger Gold and Gravenstein.

 

Everyone said to come back in October, as the season is late this year. And we will. We are going to take Iraqi friends one weekend, so their kids can do the corn maze and the tractor ride and the house with all the pumpkins painted and dressed up like ghosts.  But Michelle is only here one week, and they don’t have this in Kansas.

We drove the scenic highway, by the waterfalls, on the way home. We stopped at only a couple of waterfalls.

We are very thankful to Michelle for being considerate enough to visit us! Because otherwise, we would have been working, and we would have missed a perfect fall day.

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